Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Dean called...

I didn't have to call the Dean, he called me and asked me what happened. I told him what I heard and saw, trying to be fair and exact. Then I said the instructor was out of line and shouldn' t have yelled (he did ask if at any point the instructor had said the F word, which he didn't), but in his defense, this student has been rude, disruptive and disrespectful to the instructor and other students, and the instructor doesn't even know the half of it because he can't see him or hear him all the time with the ICN network. Apparently, the instructor was the one who called the Dean first, and told him about what happened and what the student was like, him being a douche bag and all. He said my comments verified what the instructor had said.

Then he asked if there were other students in the class that thought this student was disruptive. Here's where I give pause. 2 maybe 3 others in the class will state how this student behaves, but maybe not even that. They will side with the student because they are students (an us vs. them mentality), it won't benefit them to "nark" on him, and they are part of the society where there is no accountability, the instructor acted worse in their eyes simply because he is the "adult".

Although, I was really impressed with one student who actually told DB that he deserved to get yelled at and that his actions were a lot worse than the instructors. I will probably give names of other students, but I don't know what they will say.

This is a no win for everyone. The best thing that could happen is that they both apoligise to each other for acting, in the words of our president, "stupidly." But that will never happen. DB is still going to be in the class, although after the reprimand from the other student he was markedly quieter. He's not going to back down. He will fight and complain and be a thorn in the side of the Dean until this guy is fired. If I were the instructor, I wouldn't have showed up today, I would have said take this job and shove it, because I'm pretty sure he doesn't need it. Can an instructor even ask for a student to be removed? I don't envy the Dean on this one.

This is one of the things that's wrong with the entire educational system. There is little support from the administration to back up instructors who are being abused by students who think they deserve the utmost respect when they have shown none at all to them. Who knows what will happen, but I intend to stand up for him.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm with you professor.

The macroecon class I'm currently taking from the local community college is conducted through ICN (Iowa Communications Network). It's old school telecommunications. It's an improvement over the last class where I had no ability communicate directly in real time with my professor, but I still can't stand in front of him and demand his attention. I have to push a button and speak into a microphone (imagine NASA's headquarters, 1960 microphone, institutional cream colored) and watch him on a TV.

It's okay. I'm learning quite a bit and doing just enough to get my easy A. I learn best when I explain concepts to other students, and collaborate with them. There are 2 others that I work with often because they are serious. They like that I can teach them things. But the rest of my classmates make it very difficult to learn. They talk through the entire class. They make fun of and swear at the professor. They are rude to him when they speak to him. They make ridiculous statements claiming they know more than they really do.

I have nick-named my favorite Douche Bag. Douche Bag is a pseudo-intellectual, weighing in on the evil corporations, the state of the American economy, and how freaking fabulous France and Argentina are (so, God! When the hell will you just LEAVE and go to your precious euro trash countries and leave us the hell alone?!?!?!?). He's going to Wartburg to become a foreign diplomat and has claimed numerous times that he doesn't even know why he's being forced to take this class (ECONOMICS!) because he'll NEVER NEED IT!!!

The stupidity is almost too much for me!!!

He has been complaining about his grade in the last class he took with this professor, because his participation grade was not what he was expecting. He doesn't know why it took a hit. I know why. He's totally disrespectful, to the detriment of the class. If he acted as bad as he acts in this class (I mean, he even exaggerates his voice when answering worksheet questions to get a laugh from his classmates... how middle school is that? And I should know.) I wouldn't be surprised if he failed. That's what I would want to do if he treated me that way as an instructor.

Today our instructor hit his breaking point, after Douche Bag asked a question in a haughty and rude way. He yelled, swore (if "damn" is still a swear word), and got red in the face as he told him he will do what he tells him to. To which, Douche Bag responded, "No wonder you only teach at a community college." and stormed out. Ummmm, at least he's not attending a community college...

His head will be on a platter. He should have maintained his composure, he should have acted professionally, but I totally understand after putting up with Douche Bag all summer. Students were proclaiming they were going to call the Dean, write a petition, stand against this guy who acted out of line.

But he didn't. He has received nothing but disrespect. You get what you give. He is a relatively okay teacher given what the class is. And he shouldn't have to take that kind of abuse. Why can't the student be held accountable for his actions? I have half a mind to call the dean and defend him, but I don't know if it's my place. But I've been in his place.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy Sunday

Today was a glorious day! We played hooky from church because of the dirty looks we would have gotten from Addie's smoker cough. No need to infect the fine God-fearing folk of our town. We drug Addie into the bathroom with us for some vapor therapy as we showered, and then hosed her down. She then went down for a much needed nap. Emily went outside with us to soak up some beautiful sunny rays, and then, that's when we hatched a plan.

Jeremy went to town to get his fishing license and some poor luckless worms, as well as 2 free mocha lattes from McDs (I know, spare me, we can't help it!). Then we ate lunch and headed out to Backbone State Park to find some fish and a grassy spot to relax.

Addie caught her first fish, and we taught her how to exaggerate how big it was. We said it was "this...... big!" spreading our arms out all the way. She looked at us like we were crazy, held her hands up about a foot apart and corrected us very matter-of-factly. "No, not really. It was this big really." It was even smaller when we got home! We're working on it.

We just spent the day enjoying the unbelievably picturesque landscape of lush bright green corn fields under endless blue sky dappled with fluffy whale and bunny shaped cotton balls. More days like this, please!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nature or Nurture

I've been hearing a lot lately about how to develop a little person's mind so they don't grow up to be a serial killer. We all know the standard nature vs. nurture argument. According to two vague guys on NPR the other day, those assumptions are totally wrong and can hinder a child's development, but I couldn't understand what they thought did work well. Something about steps they take along the way of growing up. There's the "it takes a village" theory, which I tend to agree with, because I know if I'm the only one raising them, I can only blame myself, and who wants that? According to the statistics in "Freakonomics" by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, (which they admit, in general, can be swayed to prove any point) it makes no difference, but what does is your socioeconomic status. Uh oh.

Then there are all the rules:
No TV until they are 2, then only limited. Uh oh.
Read at least 15 minutes each day. Check.
Balanced diet. Needs work.
12 - 15 hours of sleep a day. God, I WISH!

If these rules are not followed, they could turn into lumps, or not reach their full potential, or become serial killers.

Oh the guilt! As I type, Addie is laying on the couch, in her pjs, fingers in her mouth, zoned out with the tv on. Now, before you reprimand me, she has a fever and a nasty wheezing cough, and I'm just trying to keep her rested and hydrated, so there's not much she can do. But I still feel guilty.

Do I play with my kids enough? Do I offer them enough stimulating activities? Do they get enough fresh air? Am I developing their brains in a healthy, loving way?

I know that my children feel loved at least. At Emily's 1 year check up they reminded us that they should receive at least 4 affirmative messages a day. Kisses and hugs and smiles count. We do that a lot, but it's amazing that people need to be reminded. And only 4? Really?

And then there are the projections that can mess up your kid. I took ballet lessons from age 3 to age 12 and discussions were held about that being a career for me. Oh, where would I be now had I not wanted to be in track in Junior High? But now, my daughter is three, and all the girls at the sitter are taking dance classes and my daughter has said she wants to take dance classes too. But here's my hold up... it's not dance class. It's tap and tumbling... uhg! And every semester they smother them in makeup and dress them up in hideous little cow girl outfits and have them bounce around stage to obnoxious music. There is no ballet, the basic technique for understanding classic dance as an art form, the building block for all other performance dance.

Yeah, I'm a ballet snob, and if I let myself go I could become one of those full blown ballet moms, ready to push my little prima dona into world class competition! But I stop myself, conscious of my projections onto another human being that has all the potential to develop into whatever she wants to be. I will grit my teeth through disgusting and expensive costumes, cheesy, poorly executed routines, and tap shoe practice in the kitchen, because she will have fun and make friends, and what's really important here?

Friday, July 17, 2009


Besides being incredibly cute, too cute for their own good, my children are wicked smart!

Adeline starts school in a month, and boy is she looking forward to that! She's so ready. We go to the library for a wee read program every Wednesday. She sits and listens to the stories, responds to the librarian's questions, and eagerly asks for more books to be read when it's over. She has an attention span of literally hours for books.

At bedtime, after reading 3 or 4 books with us, we tuck her into bed, sternly say "It's time for bed, don't get out of bed, you need your sleep!" and then we hear the pitter-patter of her feet hopping out of bed and running for her book shelves. Every morning there are at least 3 or 4 books under the covers with her. There are worse things. She has also started to spell. I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M and W-A-L-K will get her attention, as well as N-A-P. She tells elaborate stories about Scooby-Doo, monsters and ghosts, school, puppet shows or her dreams at night. Her favorite thing to do on long car rides is tell knock-knock jokes. I can see her being an author, journalist, librarian or teacher. Or perhaps an actress as she is quite the drama queen too.

Emily is in love with animals and is very gentle with any she can get close to. The other day I came home from class and Jeremy said "Watch this!" He pointed at a picture of a duck and she said "Duck!", then the same for dog, frog, cow, kitty and horse. She also does moo and meow.

She works hard to get us to laugh. She will hide under blankets and then rip them off and laugh. She will put large building blocks in her mouth, run into the couch, and expel the block making a popping sound and laugh so hard she falls down. She loves music and will sing along or make up her own song.

She loves to explore, and thank God she's pretty much stopped exploring with her mouth. The back yard is fun to explore and she will tirelessly pick up and examine rocks, flowers, clovers, sand and bugs with the analytical eye of a scientist. In the bath tub she will scoop up water and pour it out. She'll either be a geologist, physicist, or veterinarian.

Even though they sometimes grate on my nerves, I do so love my kids, they're pretty awesome!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Ahhh! The start of a new class! The adventure, the possibilities, the things to be learned! I'm very excited. Microeconomics in Dubuque in a real classroom. I already have the first worksheet printed off.

On a not so exciting note, Addie went to bed with a fever and woke up vomiting in the middle of the night. I also think the motrin gives her verbal diarrhea. She won't stop talking! Very strange.

Well, I'm off to do things now!

Friday, July 10, 2009

B session

There is no reason I should not be getting an A in this introductory online econ class. But chances are I will be getting a B+. I participated, I asked questions, I didn't procrastinate, not one bit. But there was no meeting me halfway. Three times I asked the instructor to let me know what I missed on my assignments and why, so that when I took the test I would be ready. Three times I got a response back after the due date of the test, after I had already submitted it. And even then, I was told I missed one or two questions that had to do with this concept or that idea. Questions on the assignments and test were confusing, with two correct answers being possible depending on a missing word from the question, like "directly" or "indirectly". Double negatives, like "they are similar in all ways except for all these ways except this". Other students in the class did the bare minimum, including using text shortcuts and incomplete sentences. There was no discussion of current events, even though I attempted to start one several times. Okay, so I didn't want to write the 8 page paper for extra credit. And I don't need a great grade, I just need to pass for my endorsement. But come on!
Okay, I'm done now... The next class will be better because I will be a pit diving fool!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day! God bless America!

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

If you haven't read the whole thing, do so! As well as the entire Constitution. There is so much to love about our country, it is absolutely unique!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Great Things

Last night we watched Nova Science Now. I love that show! PBS really has some great things going on. They did this profile on Luis Von Ahn, a 30 year old genius professor who invented those annoying morphed nonsense words you have to type in as a password, often to comment on a blog or crackbook. That's to prevent computer generated spam, because a computer can't recognise those words. Pretty nerdy but kind of cool.

But that's not all! You know sometimes you have to type in 2 words, and sometimes you get nervous because one of those words are so morphed and fuzzy you can't tell what it is, but it works anyway? He saw people wasting so much time on these, and decided there had to be a way to put it to work. In our effort to catalog all existing text by scanning them into computers and translating them, a problem occured because some text is so old or morphed that a computer can't recognize it.

So every time you type in 2 of the password thingys, you are actually translating for the computer and adding to the preservation of our human culture!!!


The funny thing was, the presentation started off as showing this guy as a total slacker that only watched TV and played video games. Immediately you start to think, what a loser, he must live in his parent's basement, his only friend a blow up doll. But then you see his gaming system (5 flat screens, lots of cash), you meet his fiancee, and you see him driving his porche and lecturing in a hall. What a misjudgment on my part!

This man is great because he does what he loves. Wooed by all the big IT companies, his passion was to teach, so he passed it up and made himself what he is today. Wow, there is so much hope! So for all the doom and gloom about inequity, hopelessness and apathy, here is a great example of what we are capable of!